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DiDonato Invites 40,000 Fans To Sing With Her At Kauffman Stadium

courtesy: Joyce DiDonato

After a social media campaign with the twitter hashtag#LetJoyceSing, a Change.org petition, an invitation from Major League Baseball to sing in Game 7 of the World Series -- and the Royals victory that assured there would be a Game 7, Prairie Village, Kan. native Joyce DiDonato is ready to sing the National Anthem in the final game.

"I'm thrilled to be back," DiDonato said. "And I can't imagine, in a million years, better circumstances."

DiDonato called Up to Date host Steve Kraske from Kauffman Stadium, where she'd just arrived from New York after teaching a master class and performing at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday.

How excited are you to be singing the National Anthem tonight, Joyce? 

I really have a hard time finding the words for a lot of reasons. This is such an epic and special moment in Kansas City's history. And I'm so immensely proud to be a part of it. And it's not just because the Royals are in the World Series. But it's also now the cultural side of Kansas City is matching what the sports saga has always been.

And I think about Muriel Kauffman and her legacy of wanting to build the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. That's my world most of the time. This Kauffman Stadium is my world of my childhood, when I was cheering for Amos Otis and Dennis Leonard and of course, George Brett, and all of the guys. So I feel like this is the merging of my two huge passions, all encompassed under the umbrella of Kansas City. 

The fact that the fans actually really made this happen is the thing that completely blows my mind. 

Hey, how did you find out that you were going to be singing the National Anthem tonight? 

Well, I watched the game last night. And everybody said after the third inning, you know, pack your bags. I said, nope, not until the final out.

But they (Major League Baseball) actually contacted me Sunday evening saying, 'Would you be available if there's a Game 7?' And then they came back and said, 'Actually we'd love to have you for Game 6.' And I had this master class scheduled for eighth graders at Carnegie Hall yesterday and I thought, with a day's notice, I really, I couldn't cancel on them. Because I know for them, this was such a huge thing. So I said I'm going to take my chances and hope that the boys in blue come back and sure enough they did.

The stars have aligned in a pretty spectacular way, I have to say. 

Well, that was kind of a roll of the dice, wasn't it, Joyce? 

Hugely, but you know, the class was amazing. And I sang the National Anthem with them last night -- they helped me practice -- so it was worth it. And this is just bonus, this is just icing on the cake.

You’ve sung in front of so many large crowds over the years. But you haven't sung in front of millions and millions and millions -- not to make this more nerve wracking than it is. Does it make you nervous doing something like this tonight, or not really? 

How many? (laughs) It's definitely the largest audience that I've ever had. But I think, honestly, more than being here as a singer, I'm really here as a fan, first and foremost. And so that idea of, I think I'm not going to worry about the millions watching on television, I'm going to worry about these 40,000 here in the stadium -- and I think they're all going to be singing along with me -- and I'll be wrapped up in the moment.

It' something that I want to make sure I stay really present for, so that I enjoy every note, every word -- hopefully, the right words -- and just the entire atmosphere of this because it's really a once-in-a-lifetime thing. 

Will you perform solo or with music backing you? How's that going to play out? 

Just me. 

Do you worry after seeing people, you know, earlier singers, flub the lyrics? 

Of course, and I tell you, it's a notoriously wicked piece to sing. And you know, all you have to do is invert one word, and it's the easiest thing to do, especially in those first four lines. 

Anybody who messes up the lyrics, they really have my sympathy because you know, they're well-intentioned. It's nerve wracking, it's a big thing, I understand how it happens. 

My goal is to, you know, for a lot of reasons, to sing it correctly and to do it justice. 

Joyce DiDonato sings the national anthem at tonight’s final Game 7 -- yes, the Royals are in Game 7 of the World Series -- at 7.  Joyce, break a leg. Make us proud, you know, you always do.

Thanks, Steve. Go Royals! 

When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Stephen Steigman is director of Classical KC. You can email him at Stephen.Steigman@classicalkc.org.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.